Jeremy Corbyn says executive to decide whether to introduce rules that could see end of support for nuclear deterrent

Photograph: Russell Cheyne/Reuters

Photograph: Russell Cheyne/Reuters


Jeremy Corbyn has cleared the way for Labour party members to be given a decisive role in whether to change policy on the Trident nuclear weapons programme in a move that would downgrade the role of the party conference and the shadow cabinet.

The Labour leader said the shadow cabinet would have a role in the process as he confirmed that the National Executive Committee would decide whether to introduce the rules that could lead the party to drop its support for Trident.

Corbyn outlined his thinking in a BBC Radio 4 interview in which he initially declined to say whether he would authorise a drone strike targeting the British member of Islamic State who directed the murder of five alleged spies in a propaganda video.

The Labour leader told the Today programme: “I think that is a hypothetical question. You have to look at the sources of the support of Isil, you have to look at the way it gets its money, the way it gets its weapons, the way it gets its arms. I would want to see the evidence of it first obviously. But Isil haven’t come from nowhere, they have got a great deal of money from somewhere, they are selling oil to somebody else. They are very well financed and very well armed.”

Pressed again about whether he would approve a drone strike if it was legal, Corbyn indicated he might be prepared to do so if a series of tests were met. “I would want to know what the evidence is, what difference it would make by doing that, what the chances were of capturing somebody – I suspect probably very, very low in those circumstances – so that action could be taken.”

Corbyn’s leadership was criticised last year when he initially said that he was opposed to a shoot-to-kill policy of terrorists in the wake of the Paris attacks. He later clarified his remarks.

The unease over his response to Isis terrorists set the backdrop to last week’s shadow cabinet reshuffle which saw a redefinition of Corbyn’s working relationship with the shadow foreign secretary, Hilary Benn, and the removal of the pro-Trident Maria Eagle as shadow defence secretary. Eagle, who moved to the post of shadow culture secretary, was replaced by the anti-Trident Emily Thornberry.

Corbyn confirmed on Monday that the NEC was examining plans to allow Labour party members to decide party policy on Trident. The Labour leader, who has been a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament for 50 years, said: “I want members to have a big say in it, whether that comes as a vote of individual members or a vote at conference that will be decided. I haven’t made up my mind about that.”



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